CEDAR FALLS — While Northern Iowa’s first wrestling season in the Big 12 Conference has had its moments, the Panthers have too often fallen short in winnable matches for Coach Doug Schwab’s liking.
After winning their first two conference matches, the Panthers have dropped two straight on the road against 15th-ranked South Dakota State and No. 5 Oklahoma State.
Though he liked some of what he saw in a 24-10 loss to OSU Saturday, Schwab felt his team squandered numerous chances to secure upset wins, something he hopes can be corrected in the coming weeks.
“(We had too many) missed opportunities,” he said. “But the good thing is, there’s going to be more of them. There’s one coming this weekend, there’s one coming the weekend after. We’re going to have plenty of opportunities in the Big 12, but it’s time to start capitalizing on those.”
The one coming this weekend will take place Saturday when the Panthers return home for the first time since Dec. 18 to host in-state rival Iowa State at 7 p.m.
Though he previously coached against UNI while at Virginia Tech, Saturday will mark the first time Kevin Dresser will take on the Panthers with Iowa State, where he is in the midst of his first season.
“Hopefully there’s a little added heat being that (he’s with) Iowa State,” Schwab said.
Regardless of who the opponent is, Schwab has repeatedly said the standard at UNI is to not only compete for conference titles, but national titles as well. To reach that level, he says there’s a specific mentality his wrestlers need to adapt.
“Put your foot on their throat,” he said. “Push them over the edge. Whatever you want to use, you’ve got to be able to do that.”
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: UNI bounced back from a frustrating Friday loss to Missouri State with a Sunday victory over a Southern Illinois team that defeated the Panthers earlier this season.
“We showed a lot of guts,” said head coach Tanya Warren. “We made big plays in big moments on Sunday to allow us to get that win. Whereas Friday, I didn’t think we did.”
The momentum will have to carry over to Friday, when UNI travels to face a streaking Indiana State team that has won five straight after a 3-13 start.
SOFTBALL: With blizzard conditions falling outside, Panther softball coach Ryan Jacobs felt out of place among winter coaches at Monday’s presser.
“I know it doesn’t look or feel like it, but softball season’s this week,” he said.
Starting Friday, Jacobs and company will get things underway at the annual UNI-Dome Classic, where the Panthers will play five games over three days.